Swedish disabled high school student Yasmin Jungestedt won an essay competition and a trip to Japan to take part in the 10th annual camp for high school students organized by the Japanese Independent Living Movement. Read her prize-winning essay, "How I, as elected Prime Minister, would change disability policy," and her account (link to anchor which sets browser at start of document) about the time she spent in Japan meeting other high school students with disabilities from Japan and around the world.
Below is information spread by the organizers at Mainstream before the 2002 event.
Swedish high school students with disabilities are invited to compete for an all expenses paid trip to the 10th Convention for Disabled High School Students in Japan in August 2002. One Swedish high school student will participate.
The competition consists of writing an essay about the theme: "How I, as elected Swedish Prime Minister, would change national disability policy."
Essays should be in English, between 5,000 to 10,000 words in length and submitted in MS Word format to email address: firstname.lastname@example.org marked "Japanese essay contest" in the subject line.
Deadline: July 1, 2002
Contributions will be judged by their clarity of thought, argumentative force, viability of suggested measures as well as English language proficiency. Entries have to be accompanied by a statement where the participant declares that he or she prepared the essay without help from other persons or texts. The winner will be selected in early July 2002.
The Japanese organizers cover all costs including airfare, local transportation, accommodations, meals, excursions. Students who need personal assistance are particularly encouraged to participate. Expenses for one personal assistant (but not wages) are covered.
As the winner you will get to know high school students with disabilities from around the world, understand some of the issues you have in common with them, share and discuss policies and programs that promote disabled peoples' civil rights and self-determination. You will meet future leaders in the international disability rights movement and experience Japanese hospitality and culture - in brief, the trip may set your life on a new and exciting course!
Here is the text that the Japanese organizers circulate around the world:
Outline of the Convention
In the past few years, the terms "barrier free" or "normalization" have been used more frequently in Japan which indicates the Japanese society has started thinking about people with disabilities. Disabled people with a high degree of disability, however, are still confined to their parents' home or to institutions for the disabled. Their lives are controlled and they have little freedom. They are restricted from living in the society with non-disabled people. Therefore, disabled high school students must start thinking about their self-reliance at an early age. Without good understanding of human rights and the ability to identify social inequalities, they will be forced to live in institutions all their lives. To be able to shape their own lives and to change society, the disabled themselves must speak out and call for changes.
We have held "The International Convention for Disabled High School Students" for 9 years aiming to enhance the awareness of human rights of disabled high school students in Japan. At the 9th Convention in 2001, 39 disabled high school students from 20 prefectures gathered in Nishinomiya, Japan, all by themselves using public transportation, and had interaction and discussions with 26 non-disabled high school students in the Osaka-Kobe area. On the final day of the Convention, the students wrote a petition and went to Tokyo to appeal the current situation of the nation's disabled to the Prime Minister and submitted the petition for changes.
Before the Convention, the non-disabled students had little awareness of the lives of the disabled students. During the Convention, they spent all day with the disabled students and assisted them with eating, bathing, and their personal needs. Disabled and non-disabled students had lively and extensive discussions. Both groups deepened their understanding of disability as a social issue.
The event will be a 4 day and 3 night camp attended by approximately 50 disabled high school students (with physical, hearing, visual, or intellectual disabilities) from throughout Japan, 50 non-disabled students from the Osaka-Kobe area, and 10 disabled students from 10 overseas countries. During the Convention, meetings, lectures, discussions, and work studies are held to learn about human rights and self-determination of people with disabilities.
The convention is entirely planned and operated by disabled and non-disabled high school students. The executive committee is formed by high school students in the Osaka-Kobe area and they start preparing for the convention in May. The students not only plan but also collect funds for the operation by soliciting contributions on the street and from businesses. During the convention, the disabled students eat, dress, bathe, and take care of their needs with only assistance of non-disabled students.
At the 10 th Convention in 2002, we are again going to invite disabled high school students from 10 overseas countries. The participants of the convention will develop understanding of the situations of the disabled in each country, and think about making a better society.
To foster self-reliance, independence and awareness of human rights among the participants.
To train to speak for oneself, become a future leader and play an active role in society.
(1) 50 high school students with physical, hearing, visual, or intellectual disabilities from throughout Japan.
(2) 50 non-disabled high school students from the Osaka.-Kobe area.
10 disabled high school students from 10 countries.
Planning and Administration
The executive committee consisting of 20 high school students in the Osaka-Kobe area working together with Mainstream Association.
Meetings, lectures, discussions, sectional meetings, speeches on the street, etc.
August 25 - 28, 2002. (For overseas participants: August 23 - 30, 2002.)
Nishinomiya Municipal Center for Welfare, Hyogo Prefectural Gymnasium, and other locations.
Hyogo Prefectural Gymnasium: 1-16-8 Naruohama, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo-ken 663 Japan. Phone: +81-798-43-1143.
Free of charge. Transportation and accommodation costs will be paid by the organizer
(1) The Executive Committee of the International Convention for Disabled High School Students
(2) Mainstream Association
Asahi Shimbun Association for Culture and Public Welfare, Hyogo Prefecture, Hyogo Prefectural Boards of Education, Hyogo Prefectural Council for Social Welfare, and Public Welfare, Hyogo Prefecture, Hyogo Prefectural Boards of Education.
(Tentative Sponsors: Hyogo Prefectural Association for Disabled, Nishinomiya City, Nishinomiya Municial Board of Education, Nishinomiya Municipal Council for Social Welfare, Nishinomiya Municipal Association for Disabled.)
The Executive Committee of the International Convention for Disabled High School Students: c/o Mainstream Association, 5-12 Nakasusa-cho, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo-ken 662-0851 Japan
Phone: +81-798-34-4955, Fax: +81-798-34-4604 , E-mail: email@example.com
Please note that slight changes may be made in the actual events.